People like me don’t belong…

June 16, 2021

National Newswatch – Joan Bryden, Canadian Press
Canada excoriated as racist failure during farewell speeches by departing MPs

Those departing public office and the House of Commons have a rare opportunity to speak perhaps without as much self-interest as those who continue to battle for the vote.  Those departing the House of Commons when this sitting ends seemed to have made an impression this year, especially one MP from Nunavut, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, a New Democrat.  She “…used the opportunity to blast Canada as a country built on the oppression of Indigenous People and whose history is “stained with blood…People like me don’t belong here in the federal institution…The reality is that this institution and the country has been created off the backs, trauma and displacement of Indigenous People.”  Full speech:  (Go to 20:04 – 20:14 for Qaqqaq’s speech.)  Blogger Althia Raj “shocking and worth listening to…”   Related article: National Observer – Max Fawcett   Doug Ford uses the constitutional nuclear option — and the fallout could spread everywhere  

CBC News – Ryan Patrick
Remove police from mental health crisis response, advocates propose – Document argues mental health professionals should replace officers

The question of escalation that often occurs when police confront people in a mental health crisis is the most visible, and perhaps the most reasonable, part of the resistance to growing police presence in 911 calls to mental health problems. A group in Ottawa has a proposal for an alternate approach: Alternatives for a Safer Ottawa sees a mental health crisis response team of medical health personnel dispatched through the same 911 call process but without the involvement of police.  Ottawa City council has rejected the proposal and police got a sizeable budget increase ($13 million) with a mandate to look at the problem.   (link includes a Toronto report on a pilot study of specialized mental health personnel using 911 call)  Related article: CBC News – Verity Stevenson    Longueuil’s ‘avant-garde’ approach to community policing gets $3.9M funding boost from Quebec – Province hopes more forces will opt for officers who work with community groups to prevent incidents  (The key is to place police officers charged with identifying the potentially confrontational people and getting them referred to non-police community professionals up stream to an incident.)

 BBC News –
Universal basic income: Welsh MPs to consider proposal in benefits inquiry

The focus seems to be an examination of the welfare benefit system in contrast to the assistance given to sustain people through the Covid-19 virus.  The UK government is clearly of the opinion that, as some claim in the US, a guaranteed annual income will dis-incentivize employment, especially for those hovering around minimum wages or less.  Wales Review Committee Chair Stephen Crabb says:  “With new types of welfare support being put in place by UK government during the pandemic and the first minister now pledging to pilot a universal basic income scheme in Wales, this is a timely moment to look at how the benefits system supports families across Wales and how it may change in the future.”

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Who gets respect in prison?

The issue for prisons is what constitutes the best atmosphere for rehabilitation in a prison?  US prisons, and perhaps Canadian as well, are modelled on suppression / submission of the individual prisoner and outspokenness leads to solitary.  But these prisons are often so antagonistic in tone between the prisoners and the custodians that there is a constant tension, anger and potential for violent unrest.  Webster is reporting on a new report from the Howard League on who among the prisoners actually is more likely to be respected.  The report, Analysis of 62,644 prisoner surveys, illustrates says Webster that: “It goes without saying that positive relationships between prisoners and prison officers are fundamental to a healthy and well-functioning prison. They are also essential to procedural justice, the notion that to inspire confidence, the criminal justice system must be seen to operate fairly and honestly.”  The answers in a nutshell: non-White younger people get the least respect and older prisoners of all ethnic backgrounds get the most.  Full report:  The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice   Anthony Quinn, Nick Hardwick, and Rosie Meek   With Age Comes Respect? And for Whom Exactly? A Quantitative Examination of White and BAME Prisoner Experiences of Respect Elicited through HM Inspectorate of Prisons Survey Responses

Blogger Alec Karakatsanis (US), Founder and Executive Director, Civic Rights Corps
Finality over Justice…

The link is to a string and commentary on the struggle for the civil rights of Ezell Gilbert.  The issue involved is the ’finality’ of sentence.  How does the court correct miscarriages of justice if the mistakes are precluded from consideration even when acknowledged?  Karakatsanis offers a thread of Gilbert’s case and thinks with one judge: “the judicial system that values finality over justice is morally bankrupt.”  Gilbert was sentenced to just over 24 years in prison.  Appeal judgment:  US vs Gilbert

Lawyers Daily – Murray Fallis   
Have Canadians been hoodwinked?

Fallis, a lawyer with John Howard, reviews the Liberal government’s promises around pardons and parole and, in the light of the probability that the proposed legislation (Bill C-31 – Act to Amend the Criminal Records Act) will die on the order paper, wonders if this was the plan all along.  “Ultimately, it means a political calculus was made. A calculus to be seen as having moved on promised criminal records reforms despite an awareness that Bill C-31 would never become law. A calculus to play on the hopes of marginalized Canadians that relief from discrimination was coming, while knowing deep down that the old system will remain. A calculus to engage in no substantive effort to address inequity, while hoping that naïve Canadians, oblivious to the procedures of Parliament, will rally in their blindness to support seemingly progressive ideals.”

Blogger Russell Webster (UK) –
A Restorative Community in HMP (Her Majesty’s Penitentiary) Dartmoor

Webster is reporting on the work of a group called the Centre for Peaceful Solutions which uses restorative justice methods to resolve tension and conflict inside the prisons by training the prisoners as facilitators in RJ.  The work extends to schools, communities and families as well as prisons and is called the Dialogue Road Map – “a framework for nonviolent communication which creates effective relationships, mutual respect, self-responsibility and shared accountability.”  Centre for Peaceful Solutions:

Homeless Hub (Toronto) – Melanie Redman and Stephen Gaetz
Announcing the Launch of the Toronto Centre of Excellence on Youth Homelessness Prevention at York University

The UN Economic Commission for Europe has established a Centre of Excellence on Youth Homelessness Prevention at York University.  The Centre is hosted by York University and co-led by the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, A Way Home Canada and our Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab.  The distinctive advantage is an international partnership with some 56 members.  Canada’s contribution will be its Housing First for Youth program.